Asia AFC Champions League

Yokohama Survive Shandong Rally to Claim First Leg Advantage

Yokohama F. Marinos claimed a narrow victory over Shandong Taishan in the first leg of their 2023/24 AFC Champions League quarter-final clash at the Jinan Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Wednesday.

The Japanese side took the lead early on, with Anderson Lopes finding the net in the seventh minute. Fellow Brazilian Yan Matheus doubled the advantage in the 69th minute. However, Shandong’s substitute Chen Pu narrowed the deficit in injury time of the second half, setting the stage for an intriguing second leg.

Yokohama signaled their intent just four minutes into the match when Lopes capitalized on a misplaced pass from Shandong’s Shi Ke but was thwarted by goalkeeper Wang Dalei. Nevertheless, Lopes broke the deadlock three minutes later, receiving Ren Kato’s shot inside the box and firing a left-footed strike past Wang.

Despite Shandong’s efforts, they struggled to find their rhythm, with Yokohama posing a threat on the counter. Valeri Qazaishvili’s powerful strike from distance in the 20th minute tested Yokohama’s custodian William Popp, while Wang denied Elber a chance in the 25th minute after Shi’s injury allowed him through on goal.

As the first half progressed, Shandong pressed for an equalizer, with Li Yuanyi’s header narrowly missing the target just before halftime.

Shandong started the second half more brightly, with Matheus Pato testing Popp early on. In the 54th minute, Matheus Pato’s effort struck the woodwork, denying Shandong an equalizer. Despite their efforts, it was Yan Matheus who extended Yokohama’s lead in the 69th minute with a shot from the edge of the box.

However, Shandong rallied, and Chen Pu’s late goal in the 91st minute breathed new life into their hopes for the second leg.

After overturning a first-leg deficit in the Round of 16, Shandong faces a similar task against Yokohama in the second leg at the Nissan Stadium on March 13 to keep their tournament hopes alive.